• Welcome to the DeeperBlue.com Forums, the largest online community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing. To gain full access to the DeeperBlue.com Forums you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:

    • Join over 44,280+ fellow diving enthusiasts from around the world on this forum
    • Participate in and browse from over 516,210+ posts.
    • Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
    • Post your own photos or view from 7,441+ user submitted images.
    • All this and much more...

    You can gain access to all this absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!

Lung Volume

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


New Member
Aug 13, 2002
Regardless of what many GREAT freedivers say ( among them Mayol, E.fattah) I am still deeply convinced that performances in each freedivng specialty are directly proportional to lung volume.
Of course, many other factors come into play: if you givr my humble 4,8 L lungs to to 40 Kg little girl, she would achieve far better results then I would do.
Were' nt it like this, freediving technique would'nt focus so far on the ability to breath as deeply as possible.
For extreme dives, champions would' nt pack.
Personally, I confirmed on myself that 1 min. of static correspond to 20'' of available time underwater while moving, and, at an approximate optimal speed of 1m/sec. would correspond to 10 m.
Indeed, what my friend and me experience is that somebody that hits 3' in static, hits 25m in constant ( the missing 5m depending on improvable technique), and takes for it 1' of time.

I would gladly exchange opinions with other lovers of the sports.

dive safe

love safer

Think about it

It is very easy to show that the performance in constant weight does not increase directly with lung volume. Suppose for example, that a diver 75kg diver had a lung volume of 30L. Surely this diver would set world records....right? Wrong! In fact, this diver could never even get under the surface! He would need about 20kg of weight just to be able to get down! Then, at the bottom when his lungs are compressed to 3L, now he is enormously heavy, and he would never be able to get back up.

The same diver, (75kg/30L), could exhale before going down. Then, he wouldn't need any ballast, and he would sink the whole way down (no kicking needed). So the descent would just be static apnea. On the ascent, he has to reach the surface with only the oxygen stored in his blood/myoglobin & tissues.

The same diver could inhale maybe 5L before going down. Now, he has to wear a little ballast, and kick a little bit before he starts sinking. At the bottom he is a bit negative, but not too much. But, he has extra oxygen in his lungs to help him back up.

So for a given size of diver, there is an optimum volume of air which must be inhaled for maximum performance. However, this optimum value depends GREATLY on situational modifiers. For example, exhaling before going down would only be practical with no wetsuit, because only then would you sink the whole way down. With a thicker suit, inhaling would definitely beat exhaling. Also, basal metabolic rate would have a major effect. Exhaling would only work if the basal metabolism was extremely slow, so during the 'static apnea sinking' you would consume almost no oxygen. (WARNING: never do exhale dives without someone watching!)

However, in the no-limits discipline, things change again. Here, the problem of DCS & narcosis means that in the ideal case, you would inhale only the minimum amount of air needed to stay conscious during the dive. If you equalize with water and have a very flexible ribcage, then you don't need extra air to equalize. Taking less than a full breath would minimize the chance of DCS, reduce or eliminate N2 and CO2 narcosis and O2 toxicity. This is why seals & whales must exhale before they go down, to eliminate all those problems.

The bottom line is that the lungs are the poorest store of oxygen. The lungs are compressible, which is a major problem in buoyancy change, and the air in the lungs causes DCS, N2 narcosis, CO2 narcosis, and O2 toxicity. The blood, myoglobin and tissues all store oxygen, and they don't change buoyancy, and they cannot cause any narcosis/toxicity or DCS.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Lungs, HB, Myoglobin,etc

Hola Andreas,
Your topic has been under discution long times.
For static performances, if you have a huge lung volume your O2 supply will be bigger than a guy with normal volume, that's and advantage, but there are many other things like Hb, Myoglobin, Muscle Mitochondrial density, technique, etc to name a few, involved in diving performance.
A huge lung volume will help, but isn't all.
What I mean is, Despite your 'normal' lung volume you still can be an Elite freediver (Yasemin, is an example).
Last edited:
First let me say thanks to Frank and Eric (and many others) for all the time they take to share with the rest of us. In one set of exchanges, on this forum, recently, Eric increased my results by almost 10%.
I hope you are right Andreas and that I only need to practice more. Six minute statics are easy but, 42 metres is my deepest constant. 61 would be a lifetime dream come true.
One statement and one request.
Packing a half litre doesn't seem to give me the 7% gain that I expected in static nor dynamic and as Eric points out, extra buoyancy can cause a problem or two in constant.
Last week I experimented with speed (velocity that is) and it didn't make any difference. I did 2 turn 70 metre dynamics in 2:10, 1:35, 1:25, 1:10 and 0:57 with the same breathe up and felt the same after the effort. How sure are you about the one metre speed being optimum? What do you base this on?

best wishes
Optimum speed

Perhaps the best indication of optimum speed is again marine mammals. Seals and dolphins, once they enter the sinking phase, typically sink at around 0.80-0.95m/s. Many freedivers choose speeds of 0.8 - 1.1m/s. From my own experience, if you ever surpass 1.15 m/s during the sinking phase, you are too heavy for an efficient ascent.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

analyzing meny freedivers, I noted the correspondence:
1' static
one third of that time underwater finning
10m in constant

then, when I read the book by Pelizzari "apnea course", that will be soon translated in english, I read the same thing.

As of it, pelizzari shows a graph taken from a mares apneist computer, in wich the speed is constantly 1m/s
(2'00'' for a 60 m dive)
of course that correspondence is approximate, but we noticed that it was real.

Regarding the discrepancy between your 6'00'' static and your 42m constant I could think the the result in static depends much on a given O2 consumption rate for a certain body, and on the ability to hold contractions and to get close to blackout threshold.;
while in constant many other factors supervene, like:
-how streamlined and hydrodynamic your body is;
-the diffrence of O2 consumption while MOVING, that could vary from body to body
-differences in the amount af air needed for equalizing.

Onother guy is Guillame Nery, that told me to achive 6' 00'' at best in static, but +82 constant.

but I think that there is much vatiability on how different guys can get close to the limit in each discipline, but still I think that must be a proportionality beetween disciplines.

take care

Thanks for the answers. Pelizzari is well respected among free divers. I don't speak Italian but, I'd be interested in knowing when the translated version is available. I did manage to struggle through a few sites in French and learn a lot.
Meanwhile, more practice in the water will help.

Thanks for another 'rule of thumb'. The D3 says my last two 'free falls' were about 3/4 meter per second, max. Another half kilo sounds like a good idea.

best wishes

If one is going to follow Pelizzari's book, then one must also remember that Pelizzari never packs his lungs, so he obviously doesn't believe that maximum volume means maximum performance.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada


Pellizari is a true champion of this sport although some of his achievements have been broken he is a inspiration to many including myself. Something interesting happened today my mate and I went to the pool to do dynamic apnea for the first time in 4months. He was using omer millenium green fins and I had no fins. At the moment im in the best shape ive ever been in I was expecting to do 75m without fins my record is 72m. My mate did 75m with fins he only took a very shallow breath around 3L and made it. I did an extremely dissapointing 50m without fins. Although im in the best shape ive been in I have forgoten how to relax so I couldn't beat my pb. I think what pellizari says about been mentally prepared and relaxed is more important than physical shape. Im depressed because ive been swimming 3km a day and running 2km a day as well as some pack streching, but what i havent been doing is any static or dynamic. I have been trying to increase lung size but havent seen a improvement in static or dynamic. Maybe if I want to do better statics and dynamics I should practice static and dynamics.

Hey Ivan,

Did you "warm up" first ?

You need to kick in your diving reflex before trying a big dynamic. Can do this by first doing a series of statics, Negative pressure dives, or just by doing some "warm up" dynamics first.

I can do well over 100m dynamics, but couldn't go much over 50m without preparing first.

You don't do your best static on your first go do you ?

Dynamics and depth diving are exactly the same prinicple.

Optimum speed

Bill has brought up a good point about most efficient speeds.

There are 3 factors at play here:

1 - for a doubling of effort in your stroke you consume 4 times more oxygen.

2 - the most efficient speed for an inanimate object is about 1 body length per second - ie for a freediver the most hydrodynamically efficient speed is about 2 m/s.

3 - how physically relaxed can the diver remain whilst working underwater.

Firstly - you will note that the top to factors are opposing - hence why Bill can feels the same after dives of varying speeds. Those that do not relax their unused muscles well will be better at a faster speed, but more relaxed individuals can go at a slow rate or a fast rate. I suspect that most people would fit the latter type.
Original question

I just realised that we are off on a tangent here. To add to the original question - does total lung volume determine depth.

As Eric said, No.

But residual volume: total lung volume ratio will have a bearing on the maximum depth you can achieve with normal ear clearing techniques. Eric's mouthfilling technique lets you get beyond this but can overstrech the diaphragm so it is not recommended without lots of practice and stretching.

The equation for maximum depth achieved with normal ear clearing is:

((10(T+X))/R+X)-10 = max depth in metres

T = total lung capacity in litres
R = residual volume in litres
X = mask, sinuses, ear volumes
(the last two are lumped together and it is hard to tell the two apart - i.e. where does lung air end, and 'head'air start, the soft palate is probably the most sensible place).

This is max depth by ear clearing - not by oxygen consumption.


Allow me to try to make a case that you have missed by about 10 meters. Not being dissagreeable, just keeping the discussion going.

"This is max depth by ear clearing"

Isn't this the max depth to fully clear the ears? Couldn't one then descend another 20-25% before he had to clear again (about the equivalent of surface to 2.5 meters in the pool)?

Either way, the limit appears to be 40-50 meters without learning another technique.

Not so simple

First of all, if the diver chooses to flood the sinuses early in the dive, then the inner ear fills with liquid and no more equalizing is needed, regardless of the residual or total lung volume.

Even if the diver chooses to equalize with air, then it also depends on whether he is descending head first, or feet first. In both cases, the ultimate residual volume changes at extreme depth since fluid fills the lower lungs and displaces air. Loic has equalized at 154m (feet first) using simple air-based frenzel, and Pelizzari has done 125m head-down, using air based frenzel.

Just more reasons not to worry too much about lung volume.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Valid point Bill, thus the equation would need to be mutiplied by a % factor . I'm not sure what that % should be though, fairly dependendent on the flexibility of one's eardrums, and all sorts of other membranes.

Eric, of course using fluid changes all those equations, but I am not into clearing my ears with anything other than air, the same as most. Maybe I'll give it a go some day when I am in nice water (if ever...).

Hasn't 'secretive' Sebastien Murat done some post 125m dives head first? (Who knows :t )
hi Walrus and Guys

Walrus I did a few dynamics before hand but nothing serious I did my 50m no fins then my mate did 75 with fins. So I tried with fins and only did 35m, I give up with fins Ive never been able to go as far in dynamic with fins compared to without. Pretty stupid really but Im going to start training for dynamic with something like this pool is 9m long.

this is dynamic without fins

27m dynamic: 20sec rest repeat 10times.

5min rest

36m dynamic: 30sec rest repeat 10 times

5min rest

45m dynamic: 50sec rest repeat 10 times

1 or 2 max attempts.

what do you guys reckon
I can't comment on the warm up routine - I tend to just go straight into these things.

however a 9m pool! Strewth!

No wonder you are better without fins! Tun, push, turn, push etc.
Can somebody apply the flooding technique also in constant ballast?
If so, how?
Can someone detail me how the technique must be executed?

If someone is to use the paradisia nose clip, can you descend without purchasing the fluid goggle, or contatcs? (still too expensive for me)

To Eric: You said that M. Stepanek does the 50% of the total static time withstanding contractions. (first 4'00'' total time +8'00'') Could that apply to anybody ( given enough will power)?
Usually, I get my first at 80% of total time).
What is the percent of time with contratcions for a very good freediver?

DeeperBlue.com - The Worlds Largest Community Dedicated To Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing


ISSN 1469-865X | Copyright © 1996 - 2024 deeperblue.net limited.

DeeperBlue.com is the World's Largest Community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving, Ocean Advocacy and Diving Travel.

We've been dedicated to bringing you the freshest news, features and discussions from around the underwater world since 1996.